Township Council Hears Pitches For CDBG Grants

Deborah Mitchell, who administers the township’s CDBG program, speaks to the Council at its March 22 meeting.

Representatives from some of the organizations asking for more than $150,000 in federal grants made their pitches before the Township Council on March 22.

The money is coming from the federal Community Development Block Grant program, which is designed to fund programs that help low- and moderate-income people.

The CDBG funds are awarded in three categories: Public Service, Public Facilities and Housing.

According to a memo about the funds by Township Clerk Ann Marie McCarthy, the money may be used for:

  • acquisition of real property;
  • relocation and demolition;
  • rehabilitation of residential and non-residential structures;
  • construction of public facilities and improvements;
  • public services, within a 15 percent cap;
  • provision of assistance to profit-motivated businesses to carry out economic development and job creation/retention activities.

Among those appearing at the Council’s virtual meeting was Tim Cummings of the Center for Great Expectations.

The Center is looking for $14,288 for installation of new flooring in a building used for temporary housing for adolescent girls and adult women who are pregnant or parenting children, and $20,000 for the Center’s Katy’s Place program, which provide assistance with staffing for daycare for homeless children of teen mothers.

Katy’s Place is “always grossly underfunded,” Cummings said. “We’re asking for support to keep that operation afloat.”

Cummings said the flooring in the temporary housing building sees a lot of traffic.

“They get worn,” he said.

Allie O’Brien, the Franklin Food Bank’s development director, told the Council that the food bank is looking for $1,500 to continue its community garden, through which it provides fresh produce to its clients.

She said the food bank wants to add more plants than the current corn to the farm.

The food bank is also bringing back its Client Choice program, which allows clients to pick their food, much like they would in a supermarket. That program had to be shut down when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

To support that, the food bank is also looking for $23,000 for safety improvements, including “installation of an air curtain, repair of walls, electrical upgrades, and equipment purchases to improve client shopping experience.”

“We’re faced with serving the same volume of need in a new program design, which could be slower,” she said. “We’re doing everything we can to address anything that might bring up by making technological upgrades to our computers, and smaller shopping carts to encourage people to come more often, but quickly.”

“We are very happy to be getting back” to the client choice program, she said.

Sharon Clark, the executive director of the Central Jersey Housing Resource Center, said the Center is looking for $6,314 to fund helping at least 86 families, many of whom were impacted by Tropical Storm Ida.

“We’re often the first place people turn to,” she said. “We’re seeing a huge influx of clients.”

“We usually strive to help about 86 people” with the grant, she said. “We’ve already depleted in six months’ time all the funds from the last round … and we served 100 people.”

“We ended 2021 47 percent higher than 2020, and already we’re 50 percent over last year, so the funding is critical for us,” she said.

In the Public Service category, aside from the food bank, housing resource center and Center for Great Expectations, those seeking funding are:

  • The Middle Earth program, looking for $21,766 for its Youth College Readiness Program for 25 Franklin High School students.
  • Homesharing, Inc., which is looking for $10,000 for staffing assistance in matching 325 homeless Franklin Township residents with homeowners willing to share homes.
  • Sister2Sister, which is looking for $4,750 to fund a part-time administrator to assist a licensed social worker in serving an increased client base for an emotional support program for breast cancer survivors and providing educational training scholarships for support.

In the Public Facilities category, aside from the food bank, the Sister2Sister program is looking for $10,000 for cleaning and revitalization of its Hamilton Street building and half-acre of grounds.

In the Housing category, aside from the Center for Great Expectations, the Lena and David T Wilentz Senior Residence is looking for $44,059 for installation of nine kitchen upgrades and 19 down-flush toilets in the Section 8 project-based housing.

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